COLUMBIA — For the Columbia College women’s basketball team, everything starts with the Davis family.
Mike Davis has been the Cougars’ head coach since Columbia College started its women’s basketball program in 2001, and has led the Cougars to a .730 winning percentage and five appearances in the NAIA National Tournament during his seven seasons with the Cougars. He has been named American Midwest Conference coach of the year four times.
The Columbia College offense starts with Mike Davis’ daughter, point guard Whitney Davis. She leads the team in assists and steals and is one of the team’s co-captains despite being an underclassman.
Whitney Davis’role as co-captain, however, has a lot more to do with her work ethic than her family ties.
“She always has the team’s best interest at heart,” said Megan Archuleta, Columbia College’s only senior. “I don’t think anyone on the team ever outworks her. She always gives 110 percent.”
Mike Davis agrees.He saysthat while he would like Whitney Davis and fellow captain Whitney Widaman to be more vocal as leaders, their work ethic cannot be questioned.
For Whitney Davis, playing for her dad is a dream come true because it brings her entire family closer together.
“Our whole family is really close, so the best part is just the fact that I get to see him, my mom, and my little brother all the time,” Whitney Davis said. “I really like being close to them.”
Whitney Davis chose to attend Columbia College over schools that were quite a bit farther from home. Because of his position at Columbia College, Mike Davis would not have been able to attend many of her games. He says the best part of coaching his daughter is simply the opportunity to see her play.
Sometimes Whitney Davis’ personal relationship with the coach, however, makes her teammates feel uneasy. At times they are hesitant to talk about Mike Davis when Whitney Davis is around because they don’t know how she will react. But once they recognize that Whitney Davis is likely to be just as angry with him as they are, the issue disappears.
“I want to strangle him some days too,” Whitney Davis said.
Whether or not Mike Davis is harder on his daughter than he is on other players is a topic of some controversy.
“I don’t think he means to be harder on her, but I think it does come out some times just as a natural instinct,” Archuleta said.
But, according to Mike Davis, he is not the easiest coach to play for whether a player is his daughter or not.
“I think it is kind of equal opportunity,” Mike Davis said. “They all get a pat on the back and a kick in the can.”
Whitney Davis is one of only three returning players for the Cougars from last season. Mike Davis sees Whitney’s knowledge of his system as a valuable resource for his young, inexperienced team. While she is only a sophomore, Whitney Davis has been hanging around her dad’s practices since she was young, and he also coached her in middle school and AAU.
“She had a leg up on things because she knew the system, and she knew a lot of players that were in the program,” Mike Davis said. “I think just any time you are familiar with things it brings about a little bit of a sense of comfort.”
Mike Davis’ previous experience coaching Whitney Davis made it easier for him to work with her at Columbia College.
“We really never looked at it as father, daughter when I was coaching,” Mike Davis said. “You don’t keep it separate, but it was just something that was never thought of as an issue.”